Texas A&M University-Kingsville

University to serve as Fall 2006 site for middle, high school best robotics and science competition

KINGSVILLE - August 11, 2006

Contact: Jason Marton
jason.marton@tamuk.edu or 361-593-4143

Coastal Bend middle school and high school students will be traveling to Texas A&M University-Kingsville in September and October with artwork, posters, speeches and robots in tow.

The university will serve as the local competition site, or “hub” site, for two concurrent competitions from BEST Robotics Inc., a nonprofit, volunteer organization. BEST stands for Boosting Engineering, Science and Technology.

The mission of the organization is to inspire students to pursue careers in engineering, science and technology through participation in a sports-like science and engineering-based robotics competition.

Specifically, the two parallel competitions are a robotics game and a design competition in which teams seek to best embody the concept of BEST. Both competitions follow the same theme and this year, that theme is “Laundry Quandary,” in which the two games devise solutions to real-life problems related to laundry.

In the robotics game, teams spend six weeks building a radio-controlled robot from a supply kit provided by A&M-Kingsville’s Frank H. Dotterweich College of Engineering. The robots will then compete with each other in a series of three-minute, round robin matches to judge performance. The design competition is to earn the BEST award. Elements to be judged include a project summary notebook, oral presentation, table display, and spirit and sportsmanship. The table display can be made any number of ways, including video, art, poster work or model.

Currently, 15 middle and high schools in South Texas are registered to be at A&M-Kingsville on Saturday, Sept. 16 for the competitions’ kickoff. That day, teams will go over requirements and supplies will be dispersed. The registered schools include:

Flour Bluff High School; Port Aransas High School; Bruni High School; Calallen High School; Gregory-Portland High School; Tuloso-Midway Middle School; George West High School; Raymondville High School; Pan American High School; Harlingen High School; Harlingen South High School; La Joya Senior High School; San Benito High School; Edinburg High School; and the Laredo Magnet School.

Robot designers will return to campus Saturday, Oct. 21 for Demo Day, where they will have a chance to show their design progress to officials for feedback. The next Saturday, Oct. 28, will be the day of the competition.

Executive director of the project at A&M-Kingsville is Sheryl Custer, who also serves as executive assistant to the dean of the College of Engineering. She notes that the design elements of the competition offer something for students who may not consider themselves engineering-inclined—writing, verbal skills and artistic vision can all come into play with a presentation. Teams can be of any size, but judges will be taking the equal participation of team members into consideration.

Hub site A&M-Kingsville and the College of Engineering provide the supplies, competition locations and necessary volunteers—that allows the 15 participating schools to take part in the BEST competitions at no charge.

Volunteer positions in judging, hospitality and hosting are available for those that wish to donate their time to the BEST events. For those interested, the numbers to call are:

Hosts: 361-593-2000; hospitality: 361-593-2001; judging: 361-593-2657; and other inquiries: 361-593-2799.

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